Calling Mr. Smith (1943)

The Themersons had a significant influence on the art and philosophy of the avant-garde of Eastern Europe during the 1930s. Their work reflected something of the Dada and Constructivist forms and ideas of the time, but what most distinguished them throughout their lives, was their remarkable invention and technical experiment. The central concerns of Stefan Themerson's writing are ethics and language. He invented 'Semantic Poetry' which first appeared in his novel Bayamus (1949). It is a sort of poetry that prefers the matter-of-fact meanings of words in dictionary definitions to the romantic euphemism of poetic conventions. It contrasted the innate sense of good with which man is born, with the impassioned pursuit of belief and causes by which he is subsequently deluded. "Means are more important than Aims".
They were the most important makers of avant-garde film in pre-war Poland. They made five short experimental films in Warsaw during the mid-1930s: Pharmacy, Europa, Moment musical, Short circuit, and The Adventure of a Good Citizen, the only pre-war film to have survived the war. During the 1940s, in London, they made two more films. Calling Mr Smith (1943 ): a 10-minute anti-war film denouncing the destruction of Polish national culture under the Nazis.The Eye and the Ear (1944-45): a translation of sound into images based on 4 songs by Szymanowski.
In London they became key figures in the post-war cultural scene, founding Gaberbocchus Press, a major small press which published the first English editions of Jarry, Adler, Apollinaire, Schwitters, Queneau amongst others as well as writing novels, poems, philosophical treaties, operas, painting and theater design. They died in London in 1988.

The film is experimental in technique, using anamorphic lenses, still and moving images. While the spoken soundtrack employs a rhetoric heard elsewhere in wartime propaganda, the overall tone of the film is unusually urgent and authentic and in some sequences images combine with music (Chopin, Szymanowski) to convey a real feeling of loss.

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